Welcome to the third installment of my ten-part series on natural immune boosters. If you read the news, you could almost become afraid to walk out your door for fear of potential epidemics. In addition to “super bugs” that are antibiotic resistant – like MRSA – there are now reports of people contracting dangerous enterovirus 68 and even Ebola. Although practicing good hygiene (hand washing, sneezing into your sleeve, etc.) is important, there is nothing more important than making sure your immune system is working at optimum capacity. Incorporating these natural immune boosters into your daily regimen of getting plenty of sleep and nutritious food will help your immune system do what it was created to do – fight the bad guys. One way to help your immune system is by eating manuka honey.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical practitioner of any kind, and this series of articles on natural immune boosters is not intended to diagnose or attempt to cure any disease. This series is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition, please see your medical practitioner for professional advice.
Manuka honey is a special kind of honey with very special qualities. It’s made from the nectar that bees collect from the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium) found predominantly in New Zealand. (Manuka honey is also found in Tasmania, but New Zealand is responsible for the greatest commercial production.) This honey differs from regular honey in that it is a stronger antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic food. It is also an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stomach-healing, wound-repairing miracle sweetener.
Like other honeys, manuka honey contains the enzyme glucose oxidase, which produces a natural hydrogen peroxide (an antiseptic with antibacterial qualities). However, it contains this enzyme in a higher amount than in other honeys. In addition, methyglyoxal (MG), the major antibacterial component in honey, is found in substantial quantity in manuka honey versus regular honey. The MG comes from the conversion of dihydroxy acetone found in high concentrations in the manuka flower nectar. The higher the concentration of MG, the greater the antibacterial factor. The MG in manuka honey is so substantial, it’s actually measured.
The potency of MG is measured as the Universal Manuka Factor, or UMF. On all jars of manuka honey, you will find a UMF factor of 5+, 10+, 15+, or 20+. (There is also an official UMF registered trademark from the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association, or UMFHA.) To be therapeutic, manuka honey must have a minimum UMF of 10+.
As a note, you may also see manuka honey labeled as UMF manuka honey or active manuka honey. The ratings will be shown as UMF 5+ – 20+ or the equivalent rating of NPA 5+ – 20+. A different rating system is called the MGO rating (methyglyoxal rating); it will usually be MGO 200+ (equivalent to UMF 10+) or MGO 400+ (equivalent to UMF 20+).
It’s important to look for legitimate sources of manuka honey. Some manuka trees don’t produce nectar with the UMF property or the UMF levels can vary. The honey will reflect whatever the tree produces. A reputable company will be sure the UMF in the honey is measured and marked appropriately on each jar.
Another unique quality of UMF is that it is very stable. Unlike the ingredients in other honey, the UMF in manuka honey will not be as easily destroyed by light, heat, or enzymes in the body.
Here are some common uses for manuka honey, several of which are being studied by scientists (see my source links below):
- Wound dressing for cuts and burns (doctors use a medical grade manuka honey that is specially sterilized)
- Flu, colds, coughs
- Increased immunity
- Gingervitis & periodontal disease, decreasing plaque (ongoing study now)
- Skin rashes & ailments (i.e., eczema, hives, etc.)
- Stomach ulcers
WARNING: People who are allergic to bee stings should not eat manuka honey (or any honey) without a doctor’s approval. Also, daily intake of manuka honey is not recommended for diabetics due to its high level of methylglyoxal.
Manuka honey seems to be a miraculous substance! It is very expensive compared to regular honey — being made from only one plant from a country on the other side of the world and tested in a lab for UMF — but it’s not more expensive than some people’s monthly prescription fees. It’s all in how you look at it. For me, I want to try to have at least one jar in my farmacy. I think a spoonful a day of manuka honey will keep the doctor away.
Have you ever tried manuka honey?
For further information on manuka honey, please visit these sites which I read in preparation for this post:
- How to Properly Use Manuka Honey (and Where to Find It)
- The Miraculous Manuka Honey
- WebMD Guide: Manuka Honey
- Therapeutic Uses of Active Manuka Honey
- UMF Honey Association Licensees
MORE IN THE NATURAL IMMUNE BOOSTER SERIES:
- Coconut Oil
- Oil of Oregano
- Tea Tree Oil
- Colloidal Silver